What Are People Skills?
People skills are often referred to as soft skills, but they’re arguably the most valuable workplace skills of all. People skills are the traits and social skills that are key for interacting with other people - focus on honing these qualities and they’ll be transferable skills that you can carry with you throughout your career.
Soft skills are essential for interacting successfully with others and underpin all successful teamwork. You may come across people who you wouldn’t ordinarily be friends with, but you’ll need to not just get on with them, but thrive alongside them, motivate each other, and work towards your goals together - having the right people skills can help you to make that a reality.
You may be naturally introverted, struggle with imposter syndrome, or simply have days when you doubt your abilities, but it’s important not to neglect your people skills, especially when you’re making a first impression. This is why soft skills training can be incredibly beneficial, helping to make essential people skills become second nature.
Why Are People Skills Important?
So-called soft skills are often overlooked, but their importance has long been recognised. In fact, as far back as 1918, research was published by the Carnegie Foundation that concluded 85% of job success is down to employees having good soft skills, with just 15% down to technical skills and expertise (‘hard skills’).
People skills are essential for creating both personal and professional relationships in the workplace - without these bonds, teamwork can fall apart. And it’s not just internal teams that benefit from these skills, but relationships with clients, customers, and other stakeholders too.
It’s these soft skills that can set candidates apart in the hiring process; someone may have the knowledge and expertise you’re looking for, but if they lack skills such as empathy, confidence, or even good manners, it’s unlikely they’ll be the right cultural fit.
What’s more, good people skills are essential for any manager; you’re unlikely to succeed in a leadership role if your soft skills aren’t up to scratch. People skills are important for empathy, understanding, delivering training, and communicating everything from positive feedback to constructive criticism.
10 Essential People Skills Everyone Needs
From listening skills to empathy, there are so many traits that come under the umbrella of people skills. Below are ten of the most important people skills that are essential for success:
Teamwork is the ultimate people skill that all others come back to - it’s essentially the north star of soft skills. A good team player will be a good listener, effective communicator, pull their weight, and help to motivate others.
Even if you work relatively independently, you still need to be able to work with other people every now and again, so it’s important to keep working on your teamwork skills throughout your career.
2. Listening Skills
It’s not enough to be a good listener if you want to be successful in the workplace - you need to be an active listener.
Good active listeners will:
Listen to other team members without distraction
Let the other person finish before asking any questions
Observe the speaker’s body language - this can often be the best indicator of how they’re really feeling
Take the time to reflect on what’s been said, finding a suitable time to bring the conversation up again if it needs further discussion
Empathy is all about understanding other people’s feelings, but it’s not enough to simply feel the same as they do, you need to demonstrate your empathy so the other person knows that you care - remember, actions speak louder than words.
For example, you could demonstrate empathy at work by actively asking how you can help in response to someone sharing a problem, or by taking steps to challenge your personal biases.
Throughout your career, it’s essential to be able to adapt to different people’s personalities, different environments, and different ways of working.
Although doing tasks in the same way that you always have may feel comfortable, staying stuck in the past isn’t conducive to success. If you’ve ever found yourself saying or thinking ‘we don’t do things like that here’, this is a sign that you need to work on the adaptability aspect of your people skills.
Trust needs to be at the heart of any successful team; you need to demonstrate that you can be trusted, and that you trust others for good teamwork. Communicating openly and honestly at all times is one way to show this in the workplace.
Confidence doesn’t come naturally to everyone - you don’t need to be the loudest person in every room, but you do need to make sure you’re presenting yourself in the right way so you are noticed and aren’t overlooked.
Communication is key for presenting a confident first impression - look people in the eye when you’re talking to them, and try to get any nervous habits like biting your nails or playing with your hair under control.
Assertiveness doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and there can be a fine line between assertiveness and aggression.
At The Hub Events, we offer a number of training courses on assertion, including Assertiveness at Work, which covers ten steps for being assertive at work, how to display assertive body language, and how to stop undermining yourself in emails.
We also offer an assertiveness course specifically for women, titled Confidence To Succeed: Assertiveness for Women. This course begins by looking at gender stereotypes and how these may impact your behaviour at work, how to communicate assertively, and how to stay positive amid challenging workplace situations.
Good manners may sound like a basic thing to get right, but you should never underestimate their importance. Politeness is one of the most important people skills of all - manners go a long way, and people will always remember how you made them feel, and whether you ever let your manners drop, even for just a moment.
Embracing new ideas and change is key for progress to keep your organisation moving forward and towards its goals, so it’s essential to stay open-minded to different ways of thinking throughout your career.
Practising patience in the workplace comes with an understanding that everyone is different and may approach tasks differently - losing your patience and becoming irritable is not a good look.
If you’re waiting for someone else to complete a task before you can move on to the next stage, be proactive and see what else you could be doing in the meantime - if you really can’t move on, spend some time on training instead.
How To Improve People Skills
If you want to improve your people skills, for yourself or for the people you manage, start by setting small challenges to improve listening skills, be more open-minded, or to work on your body language. Look at how the most successful people in your organisation or wider network act and present themselves, and try to take inspiration from this.
If you need an extra helping hand, try one of our training courses that are designed to help improve people skills to help further your career. Our Emotional Intelligence At Work course looks at the four pillars of emotional intelligence, how to apply these in the workplace, and how to adapt to different perspectives.
People skills are also the focus of our How To Be A High Impact Introvert At Work course, which covers topics such as how to introduce yourself confidently, how to raise your profile in meetings, how to deal with difficult questions, and networking strategies.
If you’re looking to work on your communication skills, we recommend Confident Communication: How To Talk and Listen for Maximum Impact. This training course covers the importance of words, sounds, and body language for communication, as well as when to use different communication channels. It also looks at how to recognise different people’s individual communication styles, and how to adapt your own behaviour to them for a successful working relationship.
Find Out More About Courses That Can Improve People Skills
From leadership training to workshops on personal impact and effectiveness, you’ll find a wide range of training courses for your team at The Hub Events, designed to upskill your workforce in a variety of technical and soft skills.